Saturday 25th November, 2017
16
17 ℃ | 22 ℃Buenos Aires
england-fa-expresses-concern-to-fifa-about-anti-doping

The Football Association has written to FIFA to express its concern about last month's hack of anti-doping documents related to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The stolen material, published by the Russian-linked group the Fancy Bears, revealed that several players, including five members of the Argentina squad, were given medical exemptions to use otherwise banned drugs.

Sources say that even prior to this incident, which casts another cloud of suspicion over next summer's World Cup in Russia, the FA had upgraded its cyber security and will continue to do so.

In a statement, a FIFA spokesperson said: "We can confirm that the FA has sent a letter to FIFA related to the Fancy Bears attack.

"In its reply, FIFA has informed the FA that it remains committed to preventing security attacks in general and that with respect to the Fancy Bears attack in particular it is presently investigating the incident to ascertain whether FIFA's infrastructure was compromised.

"Such investigation is still ongoing. For the purposes of computer security in general, FIFA is itself relying on expert advice from third parties. It is for this reason that FIFA cannot and does not provide any computer security advice to third parties.''

Whether the FA was actually asking for security advice is unclear, but sources tell Press Association Sport that if England reach the World Cup, the team base will be regularly swept for bugging devices.

Players and staff will also be warned not to use public or hotel wifi, as that has been used by hackers to gain access to the networks of other major organisations, and firewalls will be strengthened and passwords encrypted.

The FA is believed to be worried about the theft of sensitive data and tactical information.

All members of England's travelling party will also be reminded of the importance to take care when using social media, as those accounts can also be hacked.

The Fancy Bears, and other groups linked to them, have been operating for more than a decade but have only targeted sports organisations since Russia's state-sponsored doping programme was revealed in 2016.

Over the last year, they have stolen anti-doping correspondence and data from the International Association of Athletics Federations and the World Anti-Doping Agency, with the apparent aim being to embarrass non-Russian athletes and officials.

The vast majority of what they have revealed has been inconsequential, but they did uncover Sir Bradley Wiggins' medical exemptions to use a powerful corticosteroid during his cycling career and the concerns of an IAAF anti-doping expert about Sir Mo Farah's blood data.

Those concerns were eventually addressed and there is no suggestion that either Farah or Wiggins, who both deny any wrongdoing, broke any rules.

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